Professor Judith Hawley, Department of English, has recently been involved in a number of events, ranging from discussing Samuel Richardson's influential novel Pamela, on BBC Radio 4, to being recorded by BBC London News for a tour of a hidden London monument.
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role within the Department of English?
I am a Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature. I teach a range of undergraduate courses and supervise English and Creative Writing PhD students. I am Director of our outreach project: TeacherHub>English which brings our research into schools and supports teachers. I am also Director of Research.
2. We understand that you recently appeared on BBC Radio 4’s programme, ‘The Art of Intimacy’ to discuss Samuel Richardson’s highly influential novel, Pamela. Could you tell us a bit more about this programme?
This two-part radio programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4 explored some of the ways in which seduction, consent and intimacy have been represented and challenged by writers and artists through the ages. It was presented by novelist Eimar McBride. I talked to her about an important eighteenth-century novel, Pamela by Samuel Richardson, in which a ladies maid resists the aggressive sexual advances of her master. This tale of resistance has gained new potency in the light of the #METOO movement.
3. We also understand that you have recently been filmed by BBC London News, for a tour of a hidden London monument. What monument was this, and could you tell us a bit about the show?
Twickenham boasts an important historic monument: the grotto of the poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744). It formerly ran under the neo-Palladian villa he built around 1720 and connected his Thames-front lawn to his five-acre garden which was separated by a busy road. Now that the villa and garden no longer exist, this fascinating underground grotto is the last physical relic of this poet who had a major influence on both landscape gardening and poetry. I am a Trustee of the Pope’s Grotto Preservation Trust which is attempting to preserve this site for future generations to explore. On 7 February, I took a group of students from our College and from Radnor House School, which now sits above the grotto to explore Pope’s ‘man cave’. Holly Goodall, a former Royal Holloway English/Drama student, recorded an item for BBC London News about the grotto which went out on news bulletins throughout the day.
4. What do you enjoy about working on public-facing events?
There are so many intelligent and knowledgeable people outside academia. I like to communicate with people who have an interest in knowledge for knowledge’s sake. I always meet people at such events who have something to offer me in terms of their own expertise or present a new perspective. In the case of Pope’s Grotto, I am pleased to be able to contribute to the campaign to raise funds for its restoration.
5. Are you currently working on any other research or projects?
I am working on two projects which have public-facing elements. The first is a group biography of the Scriblerus Club – a team of satirists which included Pope and Swift. Because of my research into what went on in such clubs, I have become something of an expert on eighteenth-century drinking culture. The other project is a study of the history of amateur drama. I am privileged to work with colleagues within the College on this: Helena Nicholson, Libby Worth and David Gilbert. My research underpinned the staging of a lost amateur theatrical at Wimpole Hall, part of the Cambridge History Festival 2017.
6. What do you enjoy most about working at Royal Holloway and within the Department of English?
I love the mixture of creative and critical work that goes on in the English Department at Royal Holloway. The level of intellectual engagement and of cross-fertilization is energising.